Is This Legal?

There's much more to being a lawyer than "the law." Lawyering is more than interpreting case law, procedural rules, drafting documents, and arguing motions in court. Our law school diplomas remind us that we are "Attorneys and Counselors at Law." Clients are often surprised at the counseling aspect of our conversations.

A typical day in my practice involves people sharing with me their stories about their relationships and things that matter most to them. I am witness to sorrow, shame, grief, fear, anger, joy, relief. I see despair, loss, courage, restored hope, confidence, and re-emerging self-esteem. I watch personal dramas unfold, as people fall in and out of love, as they discuss the meaning of their spouse, their children and family in their lives. And I hear every conceivable version of what marriage and divorce mean to a person.


Unfortunately, people in love don't talk about the legal ramifications of getting married or having babies before they do it. Since there exists a lack of education within our society about how to handle conflict, how to handle strong emotions, and how to take accountability for one's contributions to the problems at hand, people are often unprepared when disputes arise and seek "legal" counsel. In some instances, the best advice I can give is to first seek the benefits of counseling or conflict coaching before engaging in a "legal" process.

My saving graces are the compassion, the generosity, and the gratitude I often witness when parties allow themselves to see the humanity in each other and in themselves aside from all the legalese. The reward is in the connecting.

Of course, another saving grace is humor. The clients who can laugh at themselves at the height of their angst. The ones who have asked if I have a martini bar in my back room. The daring, mid-life women who have to show me their first new tattoo. The guys who drive up with their long-awaited fancy new car who want to take me for a ride.

I am along for a ride of some kind with all my clients during a small snapshot of time in their lives. It is an honor to be trusted with their vulnerabilities while they sort through the confusion of such a transition as a separation and divorce. Although I do help clients navigate through the quagmire of the "legalities" of their case, my job really entails managing the intricacies of human nature.

Published on May 4, 2014